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SPIGOLON: Bar scene becoming regular crime scene
Tom Spigolon
Tom Spigolon

Really, people?

Is this why you go out to a nightclub or lounge at night — to shoot someone or get shot and, very likely, get killed or seriously injured?

And kill or injure innocent bystanders who had no part of your quarrel?

Just last weekend, a Virginia newspaper reporter and former Atlanta journalist was one of two people killed during a shooting early Saturday outside a restaurant and bar in Norfolk, Virginia, authorities said.

Sierra Jenkins, 25, who covered education for The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, died at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital after the shooting outside Chicho’s Pizza Backstage, according to officials. Jenkins was caught in the crossfire as she was leaving the bar, restaurant manager Rory Schindel said.

Chicho’s Pizza Backstage apparently is not some hole in the wall bar on a city backstreet, or some roadhouse out in rural Virginia. It was a somewhat upscale restaurant/bar that attracted college students and young people. The victim’s mother said Sierra typically did not go out at night but had gone to Chicho’s because a friend was in town and wanted to go.

In Atlanta, city officials are asking a judge to shut down a hookah bar near the Georgia Aquarium where more than 170 complaints — many concerning gunfire — have been called in to police since February 2020

The city of Atlanta alleged in a court document that Encore Hookah Bar & Bistro on Luckie Street in downtown Atlanta “attracts an influx of criminal activity” to the area. The city asked a judge to grant an injunction declaring the property a “public nuisance” and closing it down.

A Sept. 17, 2021, shooting left one man injured after a brawl outside the club. Several stray bullets entered the aquarium’s dolphin enclosure and five dolphins had to be temporarily relocated so the aquarium’s dive team could remove shattered glass from the enclosure, according to the filing.

“Had there been a trainer on site at the time of the shooting, there is a high probability that he or she could have been seriously injured,” the complaint stated.

The aquarium was struck by gunfire again earlier this month when a group of women shot into the air following an argument with the bar’s owner, according to the city’s complaint.

Habif Properties first notified the business in September that their lease would be terminated over concerns of “criminal incidents occurring outside Encore Hookah,” the Atlanta-based company said in a statement. The business agreed to vacate by Dec. 23 but is still occupying the property as a “holdover tenant.”

Early Tuesday morning, a 24-year-old Atlanta father was found shot and killed about 6 a.m. outside a hookah lounge on Trinity Avenue outside the Monaco hookah lounge. It was unclear if the shooting took place inside or outside the bar, WSB reported.

Think it’s only happening in Atlanta? A man died Sunday afternoon after a fight ended in a shooting in broad daylight outside a bar in Lawrenceville, police said.

Police said the fight, which involved several men, started in a parking lot outside a bar just after 1 p.m., the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The fight moved two doors down from the bar before one of the people pulled out a gun and shot a man, Lawrenceville police spokesman Lt. Jake Parker said. That man, who has not been identified, died at a hospital, the AJC reported.

At some point, either bar patrons need to take more responsibility or bar owners need to be held liable for shootings that occur after fights in their businesses.

With the public’s easy access to firearms, a lot of innocent victims can get hurt or killed simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Why go to a bar if there’s a good chance you could end up dead?

Tom Spigolon is news editor of The Covington News. He is at